OWINGS MILLS, Md. — While waiting to learn the fate of injured nose tackle Michael Pierce, the Ravens could finally welcome back left tackle Ronnie Stanley in time for Sunday’s key AFC clash with Buffalo.
Participating fully Wednesday for the first time since making his return to practice on Sept. 5, Stanley could be an option to play against the Bills, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Since suffering a serious left ankle injury on Nov. 1, 2020, Stanley has undergone multiple surgeries and missed 30 of Baltimore’s last 31 games counting the postseason.
With the Ravens being forced to turn to rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele at left tackle following the ankle injury to Patrick Mekari in this past Sunday’s win at New England, Stanley’s return would be a major boost against a formidable Buffalo pass rush that includes eight-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Von Miller. Stanley hadn’t practiced on back-to-back days on even a limited basis until last week, so how he responds to his first full practice will be critical in determining his status for Week 4.
“It’s really just what we see certainly and what he feels. Those are the two things that both have to be taken into account,” Harbaugh said. “Ronnie is not going to want to go out there — and we’re not going to want him to go out there — if he doesn’t feel like he’s going to be good, if he’s [not] going to be ready to go.
“It’s a priority to go out there and be at his best when he comes back. At the same time, he’s going to have to jump in at some point, so it could be this week. We’ll just have to see.”
While Stanley’s return appears right around the corner, the Ravens don’t know whether they’ll have Pierce’s services for the remainder of the 2022 season after he suffered a torn biceps in the second quarter of the 37-26 win over the Patriots. The 29-year-old is still deciding between undergoing season-ending surgery to repair his left upper arm or trying to play through the injury and delaying surgery until after the season.
Former Ravens great Terrell Suggs sustained a torn biceps in mid-October of the 2016 season, but he chose to play through the injury, missing only one game and returning after the team’s bye week to play in the final nine contests of that campaign before undergoing offseason surgery. Returning to Baltimore on a three-year, $16.5 million contract in March, Pierce was off to an excellent start with Pro Football Focus grading him as the NFL’s fifth-best interior defensive lineman through Week 3.
“It’s going to be his decision. I haven’t heard a final word on that yet,” Harbaugh said. “Either way, there’s logic to it either way, so it’ll be Mike’s decision on that.”
In Pierce’s absence, the Ravens will need to lean harder on third-year defensive tackle Broderick Washington and rookie third-round pick Travis Jones to pick up the slack at nose tackle. After recovering from a preseason knee injury, Jones made his NFL debut against New England, playing 29 defensive snaps and finishing with one tackle.
Especially with outside linebacker Justin Houston nursing a groin strain that forced him out of the Patriots game, the Ravens are hoping 33-year-old newcomer Jason Pierre-Paul can be ready to play against Buffalo. The three-time Pro Bowl selection took part in Wednesday’s practice after officially signing his incentive-laden one-year contract on Monday, but he hadn’t been with a team since finishing the 2021 season with Tampa Bay and undergoing February shoulder surgery.
“He looked good today. I’ll tell you he took a number of reps. I don’t think he took every rep, but he took as many reps out there as we had for him,” Harbaugh said. “He looked good — we’ll see the tape. The process is to get him out there as fast as we can, so we’ll shoot for this week.
“We’ll see if we can do it. If we can’t do it, it’ll be next week or whenever we can do it. We’re going to try to do it as quickly as we can.”
After making his season debut and returning from last year’s major knee injury this past Sunday, running back J.K. Dobbins was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday with a chest issue. In 26 snaps against New England, Dobbins rushed seven times for 23 yards and caught two passes for 17 yards.
The Ravens aren’t the only team dealing with injuries as the Bills listed 13 players as non-participants or limited in Wednesday’s practice for health-related reasons. Buffalo is particularly banged up in the secondary after losing former Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde to a season-ending neck injury in Week 2 and not having the services of 2021 All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer (foot) or starting cornerback Dane Jackson (neck) — who were both limited on Wednesday — in the Week 3 loss at Miami. The Bills are also without two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White, who is on the reserve physically unable to perform list recovering from a torn ACL sustained last November.
Those secondary woes could spell trouble against a red-hot Lamar Jackson and a Baltimore passing game currently leading the NFL in efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.
Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jalyn Armour-Davis (personal), DE Calais Campbell (rest), OLB Justin Houston (groin), OL Patrick Mekari (ankle), CB Marcus Peters (rest/knee), NT Michael Pierce (biceps)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB J.K. Dobbins (chest)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR James Proche (groin), OT Ronnie Stanley (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Ryan Bates (concussion), CB Christian Benford (hand), OT Dion Dawkins (illness), WR Jake Kumerow (ankle), OLB Von Miller (rest), DT Jordan Phillips (hamstring), G Rodger Saffold (rest)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Gabe Davis (ankle), CB Dane Jackson (neck), TE Dawson Knox (back/hip), CB Cam Lewis (forearm/knee), C Mitch Morse (elbow), OL Justin Murray (foot), DT Ed Oliver (ankle), S Jordan Poyer (foot)